Demeter, the goddess of the bountiful harvest, had a lovely daughter named Persephone. Persephone’s father was Zeus, the father of all gods, however Zeus was married to Hera, and seemed to give neither Demeter nor Persephone little thought.
One day Persephone caught the eye of Hades, Lord of the Underworld, and he whisked her away to his kingdom and forced her to marry him.
Unbeknownst to Demeter, Hades had gone to Zeus to ask for Persephone’s hand, and Zeus, without bothering to inform Demeter or Persephone, had agreed.
Demeter, who did not know what happened to her daughter, wandered the earth, heartbroken, in search of her. Finally she learned from the god Helios that Persephone had been forced to marry Hades, and that Zeus knew about it, and in fact, had arranged it. Demeter, lady of the golden sword, and goddess of the bountiful harvest, felt betrayed by her lover, and let all the crops wither and die, and the earth became barren and empty.
This became a threat to the survival of humanity, but Demeter was determined to get the help of Zeus. He ordered her to return to Mount Olympus, but she refused. Finally, after a year, Zeus, fearing for the survival of humanity, went to Hades and told him he had to return Persephone.
Hades agreed, but only on one condition. He had tricked Persephone, who had been refusing to eat, into eating a seed from a pomegranate. Hades told Zeus that because of this, she must return to him for one season every year.
Persephone was returned to her mother, and Demeter allowed the earth to once again be filled with green and growing things, ripe fruit, and golden harvest. But one season out of the year Demeter is filled with heartache. The earth, too, becomes barren and fruitless, until the passing of the season, when Persephone is once again returned to the land of the living.
At some point in time, everyone will face heartache or an act of betrayal. You may face job loss, divorce, foreclosure, or some other traumatic event. Demeter’s story is one of inspiration, strength and renewal, and is a reminder to tap into the power within. Though her lover lied to her and betrayed their daughter, and then tried to control her, she held her ground, demanding that he order the release of Persephone.
Demeter must still cope with the absence of her daughter one season out of the year. And we, too, will cope with loss, and recover, only to find ourselves once again, at some point in time, coping with loss and needing to find the strength within us.
But as the barren land once again becomes fruitful, the soul filled with sorrow once again becomes filled with light; restored, renewed, and ready to live again.